tv CNN Newsroom CNN September 30, 2012 1:00am-1:59am PDT
we have learned that senator john kerry is going to play the role of mitt romney in the president's practice sessions. ohio senator rob portman is portraying the president in mitt romney's debate preps. general motors is recalling more than 40,000 cars. it is concerned about fuel pump modules that could crack and cause a fire. the recall affects the 2007 to 2009 chevrolet cobalt and pontiac g5. gm will replace the fuel part for free. yes, it is over officially. regular nfl refs will be back on the field tomorrow. the refs union formally ratify add new contract today. the nfl agreed to a deal with the union earlier this week which allowed those refs to return on thursday to a standing "o." critics said the performance of the replacement refs hurt the integrity of the game.
and winds ripping through the japanese island of okinawa is all from typhoon jelawat. at least 50 people suffered injuries while more than 270,000 homes have no power. the storm is expected to weaken as it moves north through cooler waters. here's what else we're talking about tonight. a mentally disabled woman beaten, 16 girls now in jail saying they did it just for fun. spanking your children, what's wrong with it? does it make for better, stronger, more responsible adults or is it child abuse? >> kids who are hit grow up to be bullies or bully themselves. >> republicans say it will prevent voter fraud. democrats call it voter suppression. are stiffer id requirements limiting your right to vote? and 24 hours without your cell phone. could you do it?
>> right now, i'm disconnected. >> this comedian gave it a shot. and this -- >> we love you, whitney! >> a bullied teen gets the last laugh and becomes a homecoming queen tonight on cnn. but we start with this. six young women are in jail near philadelphia, all teenagers facing very grown-up charges that they beat, kicked and brutalized a mentally challenged woman in their neighborhood. i'm about to show you that violent attack. there is video. they did record it. then they posted it on the internet for all their friends to see. it is hard to watch and frightening to hear.
the woman being beaten in that video, police say she is 48 years old, was sitting on her front stoop when the teenagers suddenly bounced on her, beat her with their fists, their feet and with a chair. their bizarre explanation, a police detective said it appears, quote, they just did it for fun. we'll spend some time with this shocking story tonight. there are urgent legal questions. but we're also trying to come to terms with this brutal and violent outburst that these girls inflicted on this woman. listen to some of the people involved in the case. >> they've been charged with aggravated assault and related charges, being held on $50,000 bail. >> my client never made any physical contact with the victim in this case. >> she did not throw any punches? >> no, she did not throw any punches. >> or throw anything at her? >> that's correct. >> i never talked to my child since he went to school yesterday.
>> what about your other daughter? >> i don't know the story. i haven't talked to her -- move that back. >> she apparently was the instigator? >> i haven't seen the video. i'm sorry for the things that happened. but i have nothing else to say. >> that woman was the mother of one of those girls in jail tonight for beating that mentally challenged woman. holly hughes is with me. you're a criminal defense. used to be a prosecutor. have you ever seen a case like this? and what is the explanation? kind of seems like a path mentality that all these girls worked together to do such a horrible thing. >> it is. and unfortunately we're seeing more and more of this with our young people. we're seeing children who wouldn't ordinarily do something like this if they were by themselves. they would probably just walk by that sweet lady. 48 years old and mentally disabled. why don't you pick on somebody your own size? this is so disturbing. that's why we've seen them charged as adults here. they're all underage. they could have been taken into the juvenile system.
but they have all been charged as adults. they're facing 20, 40 years depending on how many charges are stacked against them. >> it almost seems like they were feeding off each other in this video. how damaging is that video to a judge, to a jury seeing that and how brutal it was? >> that's exactly right. and it's not just that some of them are throwing punches. but it's that encouraging. there's something in the law called party to a crime. basically it means in for a penny, in for a pound. so even if -- we saw a defense attorney saying on there, but my client didn't throw any punches. but if your client stood there and encouraged and aided and abetted and cheered them on, they are just as responsible, under the law. and they can also be charge with the crime of aggravated assault and get up to 20 years if that's what the judge thinks is appropriate. >> how about a defense attorney saying, okay, my client is one of these girls, she's 16 years old, no priors, still she's facing that much time, it's that severe? >> it is because aggravated
assault has a range, like every crime. it's not what we call a mandatory minimum. it's a one to 20 range. looking at as low as one year of probation or 20 years of prison. it's all within the discretion of the judge. and it will depend on those different factors. can a defense attorney say, but my client has no priors, never been in trouble before and she is the one who didn't throw the punch. so even though she kind of got caught up, and we see that with a pack mentality. wilding, we saw it in new york city and some of the major metropolises where hordes of teenagers would commit crimes on totally innocent victim. that poor woman didn't have anything they wanted to steal. they beat her for the fun of it. and that's what makes these so frightening. >> if there was no recording, would they face as severe a
punishment? >> if they found somebody willing to testify against them. and that's the problem. when you get six of them together, if they all shut their mouth, nobody knows. but they do what kids do these days. they put it on social media. >> seeing it is so damaging for them and so callous. holly, thank you so much. we'll be watching this story and let you know what happens to those girls. she is in better condition, the woman who was violently beaten. next this -- >> spanking your children. what's wrong with it? does it make for better, stronger, more responsible adults? or is it child abuse? >> kids who are hit grow up to be bullies or bully themselves. but she loved it so much... i told her it was homemade. everyone tells a little white lie now and then. but now she wants my recipe [ clears his throat ] [ softly ] she's right behind me isn't she? [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
getting a smack, getting paddled or getting hit with a belt. we're talking about spanking here. and it's something that is legal in school districts around the country. it's called corporal punishment. it's defined as punishment administered by an adult as a parent or a teacher to the body of a child ranging in severity from a slap to a spanking and it just happened to taylor santos in springtown, texas. to be clear, taylor was in trouble for cheating and she asked for the spanking instead of suspension. the school called mom and mom agreed. but what mom did not know is how severe it would be and that it would come from a male adult. take a listen. >> it looked almost as if it had been burned and blistered it was so bad.
>> it was bright red like bad. i still have whelps on me today. >> the school board is now changing its stance on paddling. parents will have to opt in. they will choose whether a male or female will dole out the punishment. but it raises a larger issue about corporal punishment overall. the affects of spanking a child and can it harm them in the long run? grace joins me tonight from miami. great to talk to you about this. let's get to it. is spanking an okay form of punishment on a child, in your opinion? >> in my opinion, i don't condone spanking. simply so much in that it is a form of violence. we know that discipline although it's a very important part of parenting, parenting need to use it to instill their values on their children. i hope that it doesn't include violence. if there's ever a place children
should be safe, it should be within their homes and especially at the hands of their parents. >> grace, i want you to listen to something that one of the concerned parents in texas raised in front of the school board meeting this week. here they are. take a listen. >> these men that swat these girls, they are telling the boys in the school, it's okay to hit a girl and it's okay to bruise a girl. and that's not right. >> if school boards around the country allow corporal punishment, can it be seen as effective or is it an ok xi oxymoron? >> it's a do as i say instead of do as i do. and it's unfortunate that it is such a slippery slope because these types of marks that i heard the girl being described being left on her definitely crossed the line into what we would define as abuse. it sends mixed messages to children.
violence is a learned behavior and this continues to perpetuate children looking at violence. and it's a dangerous message for children to think that violence is an acceptable means towards resolving issues. >> there have been plenty of studies on this. it one looked at the long-term side effects. harsh physical punishment was associated with increased odds of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse dependence and several personality disorders. and those disorders affected between 2% and 7% of those studies. does that surprise you when you hear those stats? >> it doesn't surprise me whatsoever. and quite frankly, especially when we see these types of punishments inflicted on younger children, we see changes where the brain is not able to function normally as it might otherwise. these statistics don't surprise me whatsoever. not to mention that most studies
would agree when corporal punishment is used that it does tend to increase aggressive behaviors in that child and it does tend to have a propensity to lower that child's self-esteem. >> what about the people out there, parent who is refuse to believe that or say, that won't happen to my child and feel that it's okay? want to tell you about a california-based pediatrician who says he was spanked as a child. he spanked his kids and he believes the occasional use of physical punishment, not abuse, can be effective. what do you think when you hear that? does it teach children to behave a certain way? that's what people who believe that it is okay believe. that that's the only way to keep them in line, so to speak. >> well, i think every generation has a benefit fortunately of being able to learn from the prior generation. and i think that we know that there are much more positive parenting strategies out there that are far more effective than the use of corporal punishment. and maybe they were lucky.
but in most cases where physical punishment has been used and we actually know that in the united states, in over a third of households who do inflict physical punishment, it crosses that line into abuse. and that is very scary to me because 80% of abuse happens at the hands of a parent. and furthermore, we lose 5,000 children who die every day because of physical abuse. >> we put this on our twitter accounts. and it was hard to find people for that form of punishment. so i think people's mentalities are changing. grace, thanks so much. you heard the debate and how zero, according to grace, that it can get. next, a personal story, a woman who says she watched her stepsister abused. then the abuse began on her. -oh, that's just my buds. -bacon. -my taste buds. -[ taste buds ] donuts. how about we try this new kind of fiber one cereal? you think you're going to slip some fiber by us? okay.
♪ fiber one is gonna make you smile. ♪ [ male announcer ] introducing new fiber one nutty clusters and almonds. [ male announcer ] introducing new fiber one i've got two tickets to paradise!l set? pack your bags, we'll leave tonight. uhh, it's next month, actually... eddie continues singing: to tickets to... paradiiiiiise! no four. remember? whoooa whooaa whooo! you know ronny, folks who save hundreds of dollars by switching to geico sure are happy. and how happy are they jimmy? happier than eddie money running a travel agency. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
spanking, hitting, slapping, forms of physical punishment on kids by parents or an adult. but when does discipline turn into all-out abuse? michelle castle witnessed abuse on her stepsister at a young age. it was that abuse that led to her stepsister's death. the abuse also started happening to her. michelle castle joins us tonight. michelle, thank you for being here. you're so brave to share your story. i know you're going to help so many people out there. first of all, what kind of abuse did you witness on your stepsister? and how did that feel to witness that? >> i was young at the time so the feelings are difficult to describe. but basically it was hitting, kicking. my stepsister was not fed. she was not allowed to eat at the table with us. she was forced to sleep on the bathroom floor. she couldn't go to school. pretty much as bad as you could imagine is how bad it was. >> why was your sister singled
out in a way? was the abuse as bad on you or they picked on your sister for a particular reason? >> no, it was only her. there were four of us in the house and she was singled out. that's the one question we don't know the answer to. after reading transcripts from my stepfather's trial, he attributed to urination and defecation issues that she couldn't control, her body functions. but i believe those were as a result of the discipline as opposed to the cause. >> did your sister ever talk about it, being a child in that home? are you taht to not say anything? >> well, at the time, again, i was 5 years old when my stepsister passed away. remembering whether or not we could talk about it, i don't remember. it was later in life that i learned not to talk about it. >> and your stepsister sadly passed away because of it. you and your siblings were put in foster care. then you moved in with your biological father? >> yes. we shent about a year and a half in foster care.
i was in germany. we were shipped over to the united states and i lived with my biological father. >> what happened soon after that? >> my father was also abusive. it wasn't limited to my father. he was very aggressive with his -- i don't want to say spankings because that would be understating what happened to us. he would beat us with branches and belts and his fists. so he was very, very aggressive with his discipline. >> how do you process this now? do you have any guilt in terms of your stepsister? and do you communicate with your other siblings about it? >> i have a lot of guilt. it's difficult for me to realize that i was only 5 years old at the time. i feel like i should have been able to do something. i do talk to my sister. it's a little bit difficult because she hasn't reached a point to where she's comfortable talking about it. i do feel guilt. >> and you're a mother.
how does it -- of course it shapes who you are, the person that you are. how do you think it affects the type of mother you are and what you will not do? >> absolutely. it does shape who you are but it doesn't define you. as a mother, that is my primary concern in life is to be a good mother to my boys. and i will not let anybody, including myself, hurt my boys. i want them to grow up as normal and happy as possible. and to have a safe environment at home. >> how old are your boys? >> 5 and 6. >> they have a wonderful mother. you're so brave for being here. michelle, appreciate that. >> thanks a lot. up next, we're talking about this -- >> republicans say it will prevent voter fraud. democrats call it voter serpgs. are stiffer id requirements limiting your right to vote? [ female announcer ] the best things in life are the real things. nature valley trail mix bars are made with real ingredients you can see. like whole roasted nuts, chewy granola, and real fruit. nature valley trail mix bars. 100% natural.
attempts as voter suppression. but whatever your view, the laws are stirring up political passions all around the country. don lemon spoke about it with cnn contributors elsi granderson and anna navarro. >> last time we talked about this, you got really passionate, you and will really went at it. and you were specific saying you weren't going to sugar-coat it. >> this is driven by race. i was at the speech last night. i will tell you i didn't leave there thinking, oh, i need to vote for obama because he's black. i left there thinking as an american citizen, we all should be offends that these tactics are being used to curtail our rights, the right that is blacks and whites have died for. you don't have to go all the way back to slavery. jesse helms used tactics to scare blacks from going back to the polls. >> it's nothing like this.
>> let me finish. i allowed you to finish. saying things like, if you go to these polls and you don't have x, y and z documents, you will go to documents. that wasn't a long time ago. we were in collegehen that was going on. >> we invited will to be back. he's traveling. so he's unavailable. why are you so passionate about this? it's going on in a number of different states. pennsylvania now, it's up in the air as to what's going to happen. why are you so passionate about this? >> because i love this country. i love what we fought for. i love what we have and i don't want to see it taken away so that a person can win the white house. the thing that really bothers me most by this is the people trying this tactics know the democrats are going to call them out on it. they knew that going into it. what they're hoping is that enough people in their base
despise president obama so much that they would allow them to do this just so that romney can get into the white house. technically, that bothers me. that's part of the reason why i was so passionate about it with will. will's a rational guy. we're good friends. and i couldn't believe he was going to sit back and say it was okay for 250,000 people in pennsylvania to be eliminated in this process so that romney could get into the white house. >> anna, you hear what lz has to say about it. he says it's about race. it is mostly republican, except for one, which is rhode island. mostly republican houses who are asking for these tough voter id laws. what do you make of it? do you think it's driven by race? >> you know, i'm sure there is a racial component to it, don. we live in america 2012. racism doesn't exist to the level it once did. but i'm not going to say it's been eliminated from our society. i'm a naturalized latino living in florida. florida is one of those state
where is these voter changes have occurred. i have to tell you, i don't feel disenfranchised. i think it is a much smaller problem, at least in florida, than it is being portrayed. at we've seen now is that there's something like 198 voters that have been identified through the mechanisms that should -- that perhaps should not be voting and the supervisors of elections are getting asked to go through those names. i tell you, lz is my friend and i respect him. i understand his passion. i love this country, too. but i also understand that the responsibility and right to vote belongs to u.s. citizens. i'm a naturalized one. it's one of the privileges. it's one of the duties that came along with me naturalizing. but i also understand that people who shouldn't be allowed to vote, should not be doing so. i do not agree that showing a picture id is such an onerous
thing. i don't know what percentage is affected. i think we need to help the people. and i agree with lz that there is nothing worse than having to go to a dmv even when you do drive and need to go for purposes of getting a driver's license. that being said, we have to help people get ids if necessary. but we do have to all agree that the right to vote is precious. it's something that many people have fought for, have died for. and defending that right to vote means that we all have to agree. and i think we all do, that everybody who is legally allowed vote should be able to do so. >> when you're able to look at your own party and say, that's not right, call them out on it. the problem is we have way too many people within the republican party who despise president obama so much that they're going to turn a blind eye and let this process go through even though they know it's not right. what we need -- the solution begins with saying, we're not going to let you do this now because we see what you're doing and it's not right.
there are people in detroit where i grew up who were born on the east side who had never even been to the west side of the city. you're talking about picking up tickets at will call. these folks are just riding the bus. they don't have a lot of resources and a lot of opportunities. what we need are more individuals to stand up to their own parties and say, that's not right. i want our guy to win. but i want our guy to win fairly. >> passionate opinions on that. a lot to talk about. president obama and mitt romney, they go face to face as american voters weigh their choice. the first of three presidential debates will be next wednesday night. watch it live on cnn, 7:00 eastern and on cnn.com as well. meanwhile, as the president and mitt romney get ready for wednesday's showdown, we have learned a little inside info on how they're getting ready. senator john kerry will play the role of mitt romney when mr. obama holds his practice sessionings. and ohio senator rob portman is portraying the president during mitt romney's debate preps.
the pope's butler went on trial today. he is accused of stealing secret papers from pope benedict xvi and leaking them to an italian journalist. the butler faces a sentence of up to eight years if convicted. a rival band honored florida a&m's suspended band today. halftime of this game is traditionally featuring a battle of the bands. familiaru's band is suspended after last year's hazing death of a drum major. by the way, southern won the game 21-14. 24 hours without your cell phone. could you do it? >> right now, i'm in my own world. i'm disconnected. >> this comedian gave it a shot. >> you're out and about, not in front of a television. you can stay connected to cnn. pull it up on your cell phone or watch it from your computer even
threw away your cell phone. 24 hours. the tell us about your experience. what happened? >> here's the symptom of it. i'm never letting this go again. i'm keeping this forever. one day without a cell phone, i'll tell you, the first 15, 20 minutes was fun. usually i walk around the streets of new york texting, reading e-mails. i could see everything, people, tourists. >> let's take a look at what he went through. >> anyone have a cell phone? you have a cell phone? could you go a whole day without using your cell phone? can i just buy a temporary one and check my e-mail on it? the hardest part was not calling people. it was not being able to check my e-mail. everyone loves e-mail. i don't know where the cafe is. would you speak to new yorkers on a subway, like strangers?
you do seriously? i usually play my baseball game. new york is beautifully diverse. i finally read the evacuation emergency instructions on the subway. if there's a fire on the subway, look for me, i will save your lives. i think we found something. i saw internet. internet right there, next to panini. >> remember the days of going home and checking your answering machine? what did you feel was the most stressful part for you? >> it was not being able to see e-mails. it wasn't the phone calls. but i'm a comedian. i'm a unique small business owner. i'm the president and the product of my company. when people want to get in touch with me, i'm the guy. >> at the end of the day -- >> i'm neurotic.
>> how significant are the e-mails, really? >> they're not -- they turn out not to be that important. they weren't life-changing. it wasn't a big deal happening for me. but still, you feel disconnected. and when you're so used to being plugged in all the time, instantaneously, when you take it away, it's going to take days or weeks to get used to the old world before cell phones. it was a whole different world for us. using a pay phone in new york -- >> did you find one? >> they're everywhere. the problem is, no one has to clean them apparently because they think homeless people confuse them for troom bathrooms. they were filthy. i called. no messages. >> i do have to say i love my cell phone. u p i do miss the old days where you connected with people. you're walking down the street and you're actually looking. i do that, too. i have to stop that in terms of being so into my cell phone. what were the upsides to this?
>> the upside is i love my cell phone and i realize it's my blanket and i need it desperately. it made me aware of my own dependency on technology today. that's the upside. the downside is you become aware, too, when you don't have a cell phone, everyone is compartmentalized. you're on a subway but you're lonely because you're without your cell phone. i was lonely in the biggest city in the country. and it was -- >> aw! >> i know. >> tweet all your friends tonight. great study on this. >> i appreciate it. >> you inspired me. >> thank you. >> go to our website. here's today's new literary trend. you wrote a book and you confess something horrible from your past. arnold schwarzenegger's confession is next. [ woman ] ring. ring. progresso.
i just finished a bowl of your new light chicken pot pie soup and it's so rich and creamy... is it really 100 calories? yes, ma'am. 100 calories. yea...i'm gonna need some proof. we get that a lot... let me put you on webcan... see? hearty vegetables... lean roasted chicken... and a creamy broth that tastes indulgent -- but isn't... so feel free to enjoy a bowl anytime. mmm i can still see you. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
shriver. >> i think it was the stupidest thing i've done in the whole relationship. it was terrible. i inflicted tremendous pain on maria and unbelievable pain on the kids. >> comedian dean joins me from new york again to weigh in on this. this seems to be the current trend. a star a writing a book, they pull the skeletons out of the closet. why did he write it? >> to make mom. i cannot believe honestly in a man who's had an unbelievable life. he came from austria almost with nothing. he married a kennedy, a kennedy. he had two terms as governor and still he has to talk about the skeletons in his closet. his life story is amazing enough. i think he knows to appeal to us and this reality show generation we live in where everything has to be salacious and sensational, this is what you have to do. it's pretty sad because his life
has been truly amazing. >> yeah. four kids. i'm a huge fan of maria shriver's. sad for her. what's next for him? you rub elbows with the hollywood elite. >> who told you that? >> somebody in my ear is telling me that. >> i think honestly this man -- if you read about him, his ambition is limitless and bottomless. i think if he could run for president, if he had been born in america, he would be running for president. now he wants to go back to being a box office star. wait till the headlines on monday after the "60 minutes" interview. he'll be headlining a movie, making $20 million again. i think he loves fame. he's addicted to it and needs it all the time. >> the late-night comedian, i can already hear the jokes coming out of this one. >> he wrote a book. he can't even speak english.
that's an amazing things itself. it is not a tumor. it would be amazing that he's written a book. it's like george bush writing a book. someone else wrote it for him. he's a rich man. i honestly think -- he was famous. he loves being famous. governor two terms. now it's back to hollywood. and you need this kind of stuff to be back at the top of the game. >> is someone calling you? >> never giving that phone up again. >> dean, thank you. good to talk to you. this is an emotional encounter you don't want to miss. gabrielle union travels to vietnam to meet with a young girl who instead of going to school has to sell lottery tickets for food for her family. her compelling story next in a cnn special report. [ female announcer ] born from the naturally sweet monk fruit, something this delicious could only come from nature. now from the maker of splenda sweeteners, discover nectresse. the only 100% natural, no-calorie sweetener
made from the goodness of fruit. the rich, sweet taste of sugar. nothing artificial. ♪ it's all that sweet ever needs to be. new nectresse. sweetness naturally. your soups are so awesomely delicious my husband and i can't stop eating 'em! what's...that... on your head? can curlers! tomato basil, potato with bacon... we've got a lot of empty cans. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
founder of a girls school in afghanistan. when we opened the school in 2008, 90% of them could not write their name. today, 100% of them are educated. they can read, they can write. i lived in the u.s. for over 38 years. but i was really affected by 9/11. i really wanted to prove that muslims are not terrorists. i came back here in 2002. girls have been the most oppressed. and i thought, i have to do something. it was a struggle in the beginning. i would sit with these men and i would tell them, don't marry them when they're 14 years old. they want to learn. how do you write your father's name? after five years now, the men, they're proud of their girls. when they themselves can write their name.
still, we have to take these precautions. some people are so much against girls getting educated. we provide free education to over 350 girls. i think it's like a fire. it will grow. every year my hope becomes more -- i think i can see the future. want to tell you about the acclaimed book "half the sky." it's inspired a new documentary profiling kristof in a special report for cnn. he sat down with these actresses to find out what they learned about the women holding up half the sky. gabrielle union tells us how a 15-year-old girl in vietnam inspired her. >> nhi's mother had left because
her father was abusive. hz abuse was so epic he was famous in their community. the father is a clock and watch repairman. everything is digital so that the business is not brisk. and instead of changing occupations or picking up another job, he came up with the bright idea for nhi to sell lottery tickets. and she figured out a way to squirrel away money to get tutoring to get food for her and her brother to get uniforms, books, supplies. and some days when she just wasn't going to be able to sell all of her lottery tickets and she was going to go home and be beaten. sir, do you know why nhi is crying? could you tell us why she's upset? >> [ speaking foreign language ].
>> i can see in nhi's face that there was a lot more to her story than even what she was willing to let on. i became a little attached, maybe too attached, some way would. >> it does seem to me that nhi's story in a sense reflects the real argument about why we should care about somebody in vietnam. tiny amounts of money -- the money we spend on a coffee can be transformative in the life of somebody like nhi, as well as the idea that our compassion shouldn't depend on the color of somebody's passport. >> exactly, exactly. i think that's the point we all try to make. it's a little bit of humanity. you must be so proud of her because she's such a great student and she's such a good salesperson.
there has to be a sense of pride. what would she have to do -- when you absolutely refuse to see someone else's pain because you're okay, it does make you a jerk. >> you've worked a lot with violence issues, gender violence issues right here in the u.s. i'm curious, when you were working halfway around the world in vietnam with these girls, did it feel kind of the same? >> if kids this america could see what nhi went through and how she got through it, they could apply those same lessons to their own life. helping and giving a damn makes the world go around. we can all learn from each other. you are so beautiful and so smart, i know you will be very successful. we all have such hope for the world. and i'm maybe a little selfish.
>> reporter: a superstar practically overnight. 16-year-old whitney kropp is a role model to anyone who's ever been bullied. >> we love you, whitney! >> reporter: but this sophomore's journey to stardom was no fairy tale when her peers picked her for the homecoming court as a joke, she had thoughts of suicide. >> i'm like, wow, i feel like trash. i feel like i'm a little thing that no one really cares about. >> reporter: at her sister's urges, she decided to keep her title on the court. if i were in your position, that would be really hard to do? >> it's really hard to do right now because at first, i had thought about dropping out of the homecoming court. but i'm not this joke that everyone thinks i am. i just prove all these kids wrong. >> reporter: that's exactly what she did. since then, she's been swamped with support, from the local hair salon. >> to find out it was a joke, it touched me.
>> reporter: to the facebook page with over 100,000 fans. >> it's so cool to see e-mails that she's -- we're getting or she's getting from parents and other students from all over the place telling their stories and how it helped them and it touched them. my daughter's out there as an inspiration to a lot of people and that's a really cool thing. you're like cinderella, mistreated, unappreciated, abused. after much support, you're going to have a great time at the ball. >> i thought before, no one cares about me. i thought not even my own brother and sister care. but they're proving they do care. the world is proving that they -- not really care about me but about the situation. >> reporter: folks from all over the state are here tonight. this group of girls traveled more than an hour away -- you left your home football game to support whitney. why? >> we want to show whitney our entire student body is completely behind her. >> reporter: from being bullied to the bully pulpit -- >> the kids bullying you, don't